If forklift operators are presently working for an employer, it is the sole responsibility of the company to supply the necessary training to all of its workers operating powered industrial trucks.

This requirement is stipulated in the current OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178. Specifically here are the provisions:

  • 1910.178(l)(1)(i) - The employer shall ensure that each powered industrial truck operator is competent to operate a powered industrial truck safely, as demonstrated by the successful completion of the training and evaluation specified in this paragraph (l).

  • 1910.178(l)(1)(ii) - Prior to permitting an employee to operate a powered industrial truck (except for training purposes), the employer shall ensure that each operator has successfully completed the training required by this paragraph (l), except as permitted by paragraph (l)(5).

For more information of the OSHA 29 CFR 1910.178, see this page.

However, if the operators have gone through training that addresses truck-related and work-related topics, and if those topics are appropriate for the trucks and work condition, the operators may not be required to take those topics after they have been assessed and found to be competent to operate the truck.

Getting the training is no longer an option, it is a top priority. If you are a beginner or seasoned driver, you need such training to get employed or promoted for the job. Operators who have completed the training can definitely make a big difference.



Ways the Company Can Train their Operators

On-Site Training

Will the Company Train Operators to Drive Forklifts?This is perhaps the best method in delivering the training. In this method, the trainer can modify the curriculum to suit with the current workplace condition and behaviors of the operators.

The company can either hire an external trainer or designate someone from the organization who has the capacity to delivery such training.

When hiring an external trainer, there are a number of training schools the company can contact to arrange an on-site training.

In this website, we have a directory of forklift training schools in every state, just click on the state where you are situated in the menu, there you will see the list.

When designating someone, make sure that person has the experience and training to train forklift operators and perform evaluation. That person can undergo a train-the-trainer course if he doesn’t have the knowledge and experience yet.

The on-site training is best for companies with large number of powered-industrial truck operators who frequently need training every now and then.

When conducting on-site training, the big things to consider are the training venue and materials.

Off-Site Training

Do you have a relatively small number of operators? If so, off-site training is appropriate. Off-site training involves sending the operators to a training facility such as a trade or technical school. There are a number of these schools in your area. As mentioned, in this website, we have a directory in every state. Choose the state where you are located in.

The small disadvantage of off-site training is there will be work interruption because the operators would not be available during the training duration.

Online Training

There are a number of online forklift training providers nowadays. The company can opt into this kind of training because of its convenience. In just few hours, the course can be completed.

But let me leave this warning: the online training can only satisfy the formal instruction part of the curriculum; it doesn’t cover the practical training and performance evaluation. Please read 1910.178(l)(2)(ii).

If the company is going to provide this training to its operators, they still have to go through the practical and evaluation. Otherwise, the operators cannot be certified.



Will the Company Issue Licenses?

It is a requirement for the company to certify their operators as proof of successful completion of training and performance evaluation.

This is when the confusion comes in, because the certification given to successful operators is commonly referred to as the “license” since it indicates the name of the operator, dates of the training and evaluation, and the name of the trainer who conducted the training and evaluation.

The employer can opt to issue these licenses to their operators who have completed the training. The company can issue these licenses. They can serve as evidence or proof of certification.

When OSHA inspectors visited the site, they will not look for these licenses, they will dig for training attendance sheets, course delivery evidence and safety programs.



Contents of the Course

As per requirement of the OSHA 29 CFR 1910, all employees under the roof of the company must be certified to drive designated type of forklift trucks.

The employer can develop their own safety program. OSHA did not set the blue print for the course content. It is now the sole duty of the employer to lay out the curriculum. But to guide the employer, the training course must have these prerequisites:

The training must focus on two essential areas: truck-related topics and workplace-specific subjects. There are different types of fork trucks, therefore, the controls and functions are different from each other. The training must tackles the basic controls and operation.

Likewise, the trainer must also explain the workplace issues that affect pose danger to the people around. This is why the best place to conduct the training is in the actual environment itself, the busier it is, the better, because the trainer can give more details about the risk, hazards and dangers in operating in such tight environment.

The course must contain three parts: The formal education (classroom), practical demonstration (hands-on driving) and evaluation. These must be performed by a competent trainer either hired from school or designed by the company.

Although, OSHA did not specify the requirements for the trainer, it is much appropriate to appoint someone who has lots of knowledge and senior in the group.



When to Provide Refresher?

The objective of the refresher is to maintain good habits, ensure operators of safety advocacy, reevaluation of competency, learn new skills when there’s new forklifts, familiarize with safety hazards when operation is in full swing.

There are circumstances when refresher is required:

  • If the operator is not familiar with the operation of the truck he is assigned to operate.
  • If the operator has been observed operating the truck in an unsafe and dangerous manner.
  • If the operator is involved in an incident such as accident or near-miss.
  • If the operator has been evaluated and still showing poor performance.
  • If the operator hasn’t driven the truck for quite some time.

Every three years is the routine period when employer must give training to their employees.



Advantages of Forklift Training

  • It protects the operators and the employers from getting citation from OSHA inspectors, when they conduct a visit in the company premises. Company can avoid possible liabilities and hefty penalties. Employer must keep a record of the forklift training.

  • Having trained operators lessens equipment maintenance cost.

  • The training will instill safety and health in the mind of the workers, therefore, it will reduce and mitigate near misses, accidents and property damage. Thus, it minimizes spending of insurance money.

  • The training can increase the efficiency of the workers when performing their job. They became more efficient and competent.


The company is liable to provide forklift training to its operators. The training can be conducted on-site or off-site. The option to take depends on the discretion of the company.

If the company has a venue and resources to conduct the training on-site, it is the preferred way to deliver the training as this method addresses workplace-related issues.

To save time and money, the company can assign an in-house trainer to conduct such training whenever the need arises.

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